Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cuts in funding for care of disabled spurs protests

January 15, 2009


Vicky Tuttle knows her disabled brother and sister are getting good care at their Lawrence home.

Tuttle herself is the one providing that care under a program through the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

“I do have good family backup,” Tuttle said of other relatives who sometimes assist her.

As of Dec. 1, however, SRS stopped taking applications for the program known as the home and community-based disability waiver. The program provides personal care attendant services so low-income people with disabilities can stay at home, rather than move into a nursing home.

The freeze was instituted because an unexpected increase in enrollment in the program caused a $10 million cost overrun, according to SRS officials. The freeze is in place until at least July 1 when it will be reviewed.

Currently, 7,316 people participate in the waiver program, and SRS wants to get that down to 5,500. Therefore no one will be allowed into the program even when someone else drops out.

The decision by Don Jordan, SRS secretary, has been met with considerable statewide protest by people with disabilities and advocacy organizations. Last week protesters carrying signs conducted a sit-in in the Pittsburg SRS office.

On Wednesday, Tuttle and a few representatives of Independence Inc., a Lawrence advocacy organization, spent an hour passing out fliers and other information about the SRS freeze to people coming and going at the local SRS office, 1901 Del. The frigid weather prevented people with disabilities from joining that effort, and it was not meant to be a raucous affair, said Bob Mikesic, advocacy coordinator at Independence Inc.

“It’s not a decision made by the local offices,” Mikesic said.

But Mikesic thinks the SRS freeze is a mistake and will force more people with disabilities into nursing homes. People who are eligible for the physical disability waiver also are eligible for Medicaid nursing home placement. The average annual cost of care in a nursing home is $33,972 while someone receiving care at home in the SRS program is $16,815.

“I just don’t see how this can be justified,” Mikesic said of the program freeze.

Some people with disabilities may refuse to go to a nursing home even if they don’t have someone to assist them in their own homes, Mikesic said. Therefore, their care will suffer, Mikesic said.

Recently, eight people in Douglas County applied for the disability waiver program through Independence Inc., and two were eligible. About 60 people receiving Independence Inc. complementary services are in the program. There also are other organizations providing services to people with disabilities in Douglas County. In 2008, the total served by the disability waiver program was 154, according to SRS statistics.


KS 9 years, 4 months ago

And just where do these folks think the money is going to come from to fund this? The party is over. The taxpayer is dwendling. They are going to have to depend on the non-profit charities to fund their programs.

jafs 9 years, 4 months ago

How is it that we have $350-700 billion to give away to banks, and not a little money to help folks like this?

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 4 months ago

I think the first two posters are not seeing the picture here. This is not money for welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing or food commodities. These funds are for the care of the disabled who often are not able to care for them selves, either physically or financially. My son receives SRS for his group home. His SSI check goes to the state each month to help defray these costs, leaving him about $300 a month for all his other expenses. He works part-time, pays taxes and SS. He is both mentally and physically disabled. He has Medicaid but pays for it as he works. He is unable to live alone due to his problems. Until he was nearly forty, all his living expenses were paid for by family. I can understand why some are disgusted with the system but I don't think they are looking at what this program really is. If they begrudge helping out the disabled, and yes, I know there are some who abuse the system, then how do they propose that people like this live. It would cost us far more as taxpayers to keep him in a nursing home where he could vegetate for another 20-40 years than to help him out this way and let him be productive. It's not a free ride for them. What safety net was there will remain for those already in the system but those not have had it pulled out from under them and sent into free fall.

Susan Mangan 9 years, 4 months ago

Well put, Liberty. It's not about figuring out how to screw over the helpless. It's about becoming fiscally responsible and realizing that, just because a government program exists, that doesn't mean it's the BEST way. I don't know if your 1/10 number is guess is you threw that out off the cuff. But it is true that the private sector does many, if not most, things better and cheaper than under the heavy layers of government beurocracy. At some point, tax money is gone. Cuts now prevent the entire elimination of costly programs later. The most feared words in the English language should still be, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

forreel 9 years, 4 months ago

The law says this care must be provided. I would rather pay $17,000 than pay $36,000 for each patient. Plus the person gets to stay at home.

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